Everybody’s got something to hide, except for me and my monkey

You know the Beatles track with the longest name “Everybody’s got something to hide, except for me and my monkey”?  I find this is the “retrospective song” (follow link for some tips and tricks on retrospectives).  “Everybody’s got something to hide” means we’ve all made mistakes, now it’s time to face the results.  No matter how bad it turned out to be we tried our best, trying out crazy new ideas.  For those ideas that turned out to be a success, now the time has come to celebrate what we’ve achieved, time to slow down and “Come on let’s take it easy” (retrospective time). Let the monkey out of your sleeve (a Dutch saying) meaning “finally the truth comes out”.

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Can I trust you???

“I don’t feel the motivation of the people working on this project”, “The team has lost confidence in their management” and “I just do my 9 to 5 after receiving the blame for the last production issues”

Those are just a few of many complaints I’ve overheard when working with failing product development teams. It make the alarm bell in my head ring every time I hear such talks! How often did you have the luck of working with a management that truly cares about the challenges, the team morale, and communication’s transparency.

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Exploring your Goals and achieving them

With all that social media hype, we’re in a world of overflowing information and communication streams. There are mails, texts and so many other feeds constantly competing for our attention. It’s a real challenge to keep focused especially when it comes to product development where complex disciplines like analysis, design and testing meet. More and more, experts from other fields like healthcare run into similar communication difficulties like how to decide which information is relevant, accurate and valuable?

“In order to work together the people (involved) and the powers-that-be must share the same vision.”

Communication issues are among the top 10 reasons for project failure, another one being a lack of clearly defined responsibilities.

When working together ensure the communication is structured and clear. Keep it simple and keep it human. It has to base on mutual understanding and check whether those needs and goals are truly understood. There is a time to define, teams to inspire, vision to explore and goals to conclude.

“One Goal, One Vision, One Mission”

Oh, if you can plug into people’s emotions by making them see their own needs, go for it… Make them talk about their issues. Nothing is more powerful than intrinsic motivation.

In my experience, what is working when creating shared vision?

  • Define the Needs
  • Inspire the Team to Explore options to address those Needs
  • Explore team Goals

What’s my inspiration writing this? Queen – One Vision, thinking on team level rather than a single man…

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Yes it’s f*cking Political, everything’s Political

Skunk Anansie inspires me to write this short post on behaviour patterns and how they are affected by political motivations.  We are all wearing many different masks for different people and changing them according to the situation for our own personal gain, nothing wrong with that right?  That is understandable behaviour for anyone that’s trying to make the best out of their own lives.

However, it become a different story when this behaviour is present in organisations, since the values of these organisations often don’t match, the goal of personal gain for yourself becomes an obstacle for reaching team goals?  For example our famous “Delivering working software or Shippable Product Increment?”.  That’s in conflict with the laws of putting together successful teams (Ref: Benne & Sheats).

We have to maximize team dynamics by taking into account vision and goals of all involved individuals.  Translated in political terms it’s Glasnost or transparent management, open to debate.  Organisations should open up their management and be completely open about their policies (yes, from highest management, involving all).  By using the S-model and experience coaching teams are directly involved in reaching goals, self-organising with management support.  Experience coaching can work in matrix style, horizontally forming groups that create value.  In efficient organisations that care about their employees there is no room for autocracy.

Structuring Agile Process Quality

After a decade of Agile and inspiring principles on Agile or Lean KPIs I feel the need to hand Agile teams a structure for improving Quality and Performance of their self organising team.  The challenge today is to objectively measure and compare the work methods used in a manner that makes process aspects different from Velocity, Estimation Accuracy visible.  Effectively reaching out to teams handing them tools pointing them to new ways of working to improve on their quest of delivering business value throughout Agile projects they are working on now and in the future.

My experience as Test Manager delivering visibility on Software Quality and leading part I’ve taken in Process Improvement give me a unique insight in this matter which I’ll share.  Are you missing the profound understanding you have on workflow challenges you had as an experienced team member after you became a manager?  Are you able to separate important feedback from the team from an individual view on the situation?  As long as it blocks progress for some tasks it’s important?  Sure I agree, but how does it hand you an objective lead to where the team requires additional Coaching to realize process improvement?

The internal working of the team isn’t important as long as they are able to deliver what is required at the Quality and Velocity we have planned for.  Which tools you have to identify those aspects of the team workflow that require you to Zoom in and have a closer look?  Is it important to know the details of an ever changing way of working, usually not.  Usually complexity and team experience give an indication on the approach you should take.

In Agile teams it’s most efficient measuring progress by measuring delivered value by means of completed story points & burn down charts, however this doesn’t give the self organising team sufficient insight on how the team operates and how to improve on Agility and Process Excellence.  in order to effectively Coach them to improve team dynamics and efficiency we should measure the team values and learn the team how to improve Agility.